Stars shine for a theatre tribute to charming Tinker

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The Independent Online
The London Palladium was packed yesterday as the theatre industry paid tribute to the famous Daily Mail critic, Jack Tinker, who died last year.

It is a measure of Tinker's personal charm that his sudden death from a heart attack at the age of 58 was mourned not just by his readers but by the actors he wrote about and his rivals, who have just posthumously voted him Critic of the Year.

The packed house was filled with faces from Fleet Street, show business and Daily Mail readers - the demand for tickets easily outstripping supply. Jack in Review was assembled in haste by Tinker's friend Cameron Mackintosh and was a slickly produced two-hour anthology of show tunes and tributes. The proceeds went to the British Epilepsy Association (Tinker's daughter, Charlotte, died during an epileptic attack at the age of 24).

Tinker would have fought to get a ticket. Dora Bryan sang "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" and the audience squealed with delight at the 73-year-old's high kicks.

And the comedian Barry Cryer reminisced fondly about his old friend: "I wrote this while waiting for a laugh in Darlington."

The afternoon's highlight was an extract from the Royal National Theatre's Guys and Dolls. A dozen critics joined in the revivalist "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat". In his closing speech, Sir David English insisted that none of them would be replacing Jack Tinker. "A hard act to follow, he became as big a star as anyone he wrote about. He was romantic about the theatre but never sentimental."

Tinker's strength as a critic, aside from his skills as a writer, lay in his identification with his readers' tastes. This unerring ability to understand what they would love and hate earned him their affection and their loyalty. A lot of people love the theatre but the star-studded show in Tinker's honour proved it loved him back.